Caucuses in December?

Governor Chet Culver is the guest on this weekend’s Iowa Press program.  The show was taped this morning. During the taping Culver declared that he will remain neutral and will not endorse a presidential candidate before the Iowa Caucuses.  (He left open the possibility that his wife, Mari — who endorsed John Edwards in 2004, would be endorsing a candidate, though, and suggested that Mari be a guest on Iowa Press to speak for herself.)

Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen closed the show by asking Culver what steps he would be taking to ensure Iowa’s Caucuses remain first.

"Well, I think it starts with communication and much of this has to be a party responsibility.  I think that the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee and our political parties in New Hampshire and Iowa — Republican and Democrat — need to keep the lines of communication open.  I will do what I can to facilitate that process.  I’ve started by making sure that we have a very capable and talented state party chairman and Scott Brennnan is going to be a great leader of the Democratic Party and I’m sure he is going to be attending the upcoming meetings that the DNC is sponsoring to talk about this issue," Culver replied.

"Iowa law requires that the Caucuses be held eight days before any other event.  If New Hampshire moves their primary into the early days in (January), should we have the Iowa Caucuses in late December?" Yepsen asked.

"We are going to work with the Democratic National Committee, with the candidates for president and we’re going to follow the rules — the DNC rules — and our state laws and I hope that we don’t get to that point but we’ll have to see," Culver said. "It’s too early to know right now."

The talk among statehouse reporters out at IPTV as we awaited the show’s taping was about ex-Governor Tom Vilsack & his new jobs. 

On Monday, Vilsack was at Drake University to speak at a news conference announcing he’ll be a visiting professor in the university’s law school.  On Thursday, MidAmerican Energy sent out a news release (posted here yesterday) that announced MidAmerican had hired Vilsack as a consultant on renewable energy.

Vilsack, as you may recall, has been touting the way he helped "change the landscape" of Iowa during his eight years as governor. While visiting New Hampshire in 2006, Vilsack stressed his work in promoting wind energy and the deregulation of the utility industry which helped spur construction of new power plants in Iowa. Some of the New Hampshire residents I chatted with found that to be the most compelling reason to consider Vilsack as a presidential candidate.

I did not chat with Vilsack about his new job with MidAmerican, but Jane Norman of the Des Moines Register did.

Of particular interest is Vilsack’s disclosure that he had negotiated an hourly fee for his consulting work (Vilsack was, after all, a practicing attorney who made money through those "billable hours"), but Vilsack told Norman he could not recall how much he would be making from the deal with MidAmerican.

The more realistic (honest?) answer is Vilsack most likely doesn’t want to disclose how much he’ll be paid, and as he’s now working in the private sector for a privately-held company, it’s not a figure that is "public information." Or perhaps Vilsack has a host of these part-time consulting jobs lined up, and he can’t keep the fee schedule for each straight.

Tom Vilsack, the presidential candidate, will have his turn to speak before the Democratic National Committee tomorrow (Saturday) at 9:20 a.m. Iowa time.  All the candidates have been given permission to use 30 seconds of music as they walk to the microphone and leave.  The New York Times’ Ben Werschkul has the lowdown on what the candidates who’re "on" today have chosen. 

Will Vilsack copy Obama and opt for silence?  Or will he choose one of the songs played at his formal announcement in Mount Pleasant on November 30?  (Refresher:  Vilsack walked on stage to "The Final Countdown" by Europe and exited to "Reach Out, I’ll be There" by the Four Tops.) 

I’ll be watching C-SPAN tomorrow and provide a full report on his DNC speech — and his musical selection.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.